I’m all for doing things the right way. Work projects, home tasks, implementing a new venture. No one wants to have to do things multiple times just to get it right.
Obviously, Arizona hasn’t grasped this concept when it comes to addressing illegal immigration.
I’ve been following this since Governor Jan Brewer signed into law the toughest immigration legislation in the country and thought I would post my thoughts on this subject.
I am in full support of those that are living in this country and have been for years, to work towards being US citizens if they plan to stay here and make this country their permanent home. Especially if you are working here. Taxes are an important part of income generation for both states and the country as a whole. Roads get driven on daily. Parks gets played in often. Various social services like police, fire and health care are used. I’m all about being fair for all. If you take up residence and call a dwelling your home, you should be paying your fair share.
Those that come into this country and don’t contribute, you are doing legal residents a disservice. And I think something should be done to address this issue. Unfortunately, I don’t think Arizona’s knee-jerk law is going to do anything to help.
Elected officials have a problem and they want to solve it. That much most, if not all of us, can agree on. How they are going about it is where I disagree.
My friend in IT, Star Wars and Steely Dan shared this video on Twitter the other day. As I always try to keep an open mind about most things [Sorry Wayne, I will never switch back to Windows as my main computing platform], I clicked on the link and watched it.
Rep. Tom McClintock makes some valid points in this video, which is a response to a recent visit by Mexican President Felix Calderon. The first three and half minutes are spent explaining his stance, which I mostly agree with. It’s in the final 90 seconds is where Tom tends to be distracted and forgets to hear his own words.
As Mr. Gascón has so very well stated in the following article, putting officers into the position of determining who is illegal and who isn’t without racial profiling is difficult. The entire creation of this legislation in Arizona came from the massive amount of people crossing the border from Mexico. This is not about a German citizen who lives in Arizona and hasn’t applied for citizenship yet. This is not about a Dutch resident who has lived in the state, working for the last several years. This law is squarely aimed at latinos and spanish-speaking individuals and trying to stop them from coming into the country illegally. And with this law, those are the people that will be stopped and asked for their papers the most. The only way Arizona can ensure there will be no racial profiling is if they stop each and every person and ask for their legal paperwork. Make no distinction between anyone. White, black, latino, asian, indian… you get stopped, you show your papers. That seems fair, doesn’t it? A lot of work, but with the way the law was worded and designed, it’s the only way for Gov. Brewer to keep her promise without sounding hypocritical.
Now I know some of you are saying, “What’s wrong with that? We need to defend our borders!” and others will say “They are taking their money from here and sending it home to Mexico” and “They don’t pay taxes and we are missing out on collecting that revenue” And I agree with those concerns and issues. As Rep. McClintock above said, we don’t want to close off immigrants from coming into this country, we just want them to become legal US citizens. I agree with that. What I don’t agree with is how this law is aimed at a specific race. Sure, it’s the biggest issue for Arizona, but there are better ways of enforcing and resolving this.
Hear Me Out
Back some years ago, The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) was concerned about increased music piracy. Instead of embracing a new way of gaining customers, it took them to court and fined them for each illegally-downloaded song. Arizona is doing a similar tactic. Instead of finding a way to help those that are here illegally become legal, they are willing to fine them and place them in jail.
A RIAA lawyer sees someone with an iPod and thinks “How many pirated songs are on that?”
Those legislators that voted for this law see a latino and think, “Is that person here illegally?”
Divided We Stand
Legal US citizens that look, talk and act like those that the Arizona law hopes to label as illegal, have no need to fear of being deported. They just need to make sure they carry some form of legal documentation that proves they are legal citizens. But, they do have need to be concerned. If for some reason, there are those who enforce this new law that don’t heed to the governor’s repeated anti-profiling promise, these legal citizens will become tired of being asked for their papers, regardless of their public actions. I certainly don’t wish for that to happen, but with a long history of race divide in this country, it’s inevitable.
How do we avoid this? Repeal the law, rewrite it so that it removes the language about “reasonable suspicion” and focus the efforts on helping add more US citizens. Do this before more states, like Utah, become copycats and continue making that dividing line that much larger. This is after all, the United States of America, not the Divided Properties of North America.
I think you truly make some excellent points!
I don’t, personally, agree with everything that you said… but I do respect the position you are coming from.
The thing is, everyone – from all races – is supposed to carry their driver’s license when, well, driving. If they are in the country legally, they should have their driver’s license.
“Reasonable suspicion” applies to a variety of things within law enforcement. If an officer of the law smells marijuana or sees someone consistently crossing the yellow line, they have reasonable suspicion that they are under the influence and are entitled to search their vehicle and put them through a series of tests to ensure that they are not driving while ability impaired.
Also, from what I understand, cops cannot pull someone over simply for being of Latino descent. THAT would be racial profiling. If, during a ROUTINE traffic stop… i.e. they are weaving, speeding, failed to stop at a stop sign, etc. and are unable to provide some form of documentation (i.e. a driver’s license), AND aren’t speaking English AND are not able to prove they have a legitimate right to be in this country… then there is a problem.
I have no problem with people being in this country if they go through the proper channels. I DO have a problem with people breaking the law and thinking they are above it… especially because of something like race, sex, etc.
Like I said, I understand your point of view and think you have a lot of intelligent comments. I also think that, on either side of this issue – either for or against – there is going to be problems. The question is: which problems can you live with?
It’s a bit of a Catch 22, IMO.
Hey Marty –
I like your reference to RIAA because there is frequently a correlation between new laws and a money grab. “Hey lookie there we can make a law (or file a suit) and get all this money.” It’s usually tied to corrupt politicians and lobbyists.
I also like that you’re able to discuss this without throwing out barbs like “racist” and “ethnophobe” and assuming that because one is white and against illegal immigration, that that person automatically hates all non-whites who weren’t born here.
However, I’d like to point out some corrections.
First, it’s not “the toughest immigration legislation in the country.” It’s tamer than the Federal Law that’s been on the books for 40+ years. Federal Immigration law clearly states that anyone in the country illegally must produce papers. This isn’t anything new.
Let me repeat.
This isn’t anything new. AZ law isn’t adding new restrictions on illegal immigration. It’s basically saying “hey, there’s this federal law that the Feds have not been enforcing, and you know what? We’re sick of the 83% of homicide warrants being issued for illegals, and we’re sick of being the child kidnapping capital of the world due to illegal immigrants, and we’re sick of the drug cartels and the strain on our economy and being shot at. We’re sick of the federal gov’t abandoning their job, so we’re going to do something about it. We’re going to give our officers a tool so they can keep their neighbors safer.”
Second, “you get stopped, you show your papers.” This also isn’t anything new, and your wording of it is just plain not accurate. If you’re driving and get pulled over and don’t have a license, you *could* get hauled in, no matter what race you are. If a police officer sees a latino on the street and decides to go up to him and demand his papers, and the latino has none, if the officer actually brings them in, he’ll have a dang hard time justifying why he approached him. If there isn’t reasonable suspicion, that officer will be hung out to dry (justifiably so).
Bottom line on “papers” – it’s already federal law that you must show documentation if you’re here and not a US Citizen.
Third, “instead of finding a way to help those that are here illegally become legal, they are willing to fine them and place them in jail.” Not quite correct. The law states that officers who have a reasonable suspicion, must make an effort to check citizenship status, and if illegal, must be transferred to ICE. This is, of course, after fines or jail time *FOR ANY CRIME THEY COMMITTED REGARDLESS OF IMMIGRATION STATUS*.
The officers aren’t to jail people for being illegal. They don’t deport people. They aren’t allowed to harass them. They are to ascertain if they are illegal (but only if they have strong reason to believe so), and if so, hand them over to ICE.
ICE can still ignore them, as always.
Fourth, “reasonable suspicion.” This clause is in hundreds of laws and has been for dozens of years. It gives enough latitude so law enforcement can do common sense things, AND has the added benefit of being reviewed later by a 3rd party, such as a judge. I like this setup of checks and balances. It makes it very difficult for a rogue racist cop to actually go anywhere and do anything that would belie his unfair bias.
As Amber points out, it takes a LOT to constitute reasonable suspicion.
This may shock people who have concocted some image of me as a racist elitest affluent white person who hates immigrants. I want to find a way to make the 12-20 million illegal immigrants legal. I’m not for mass deportation. I’m not against hispanics.
I don’t want immediate amnesty, either. I don’t want a free pass for all the people who violated the law. I don’t want people to be able to come here (12-20 million?!?!?) and qualify for assistance, housing, welfare, and to be able to vote themselves more assistance, housing and welfare. I don’t want our politics shaped overnight by 12-20 million new votes one way or the other.
Citizenship is a privilege, not a right, and it’s worth whatever effort they need to go through to be a legal immigrant.
To people who want to join the US I say: Come on in – the water’s fine. Bring diversity, bring the culture, bring some good food, bring some new skills, and assimilate into the greatest experiment in democracy ever.
But you need to assimilate into the US, not the other way around.
You know, I find it so ironic that a country founded by a bunch of ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS now feels it’s their right to keep people out. Look, I get that those who live here need to be contributors to our society. And that means, paying taxes, abiding by laws, etc. But, to blatantly lock our borders is hypocritical at best. And these people call themselves Americans. Whatever.
amber – We are in agreement in that those that are illegal need to follow the proper channels for being legal. IMO, it’s less of a Catch-22 than a matter of how it all gets enforced.
As for the law of order in stopping people, reasonable suspicion can, in some cases, give more leeway than it should. It’s a matter of trust on the part of the officers of the law to use good judgement. That’s at least my hope.
While we may disagree on most, I do feel we agree on the general principle of those that are illegal need to work towards becoming legal.
whall – I appreciate having a few items that you thought were good. And thank you for noticing that I don’t throw around barbs. I try to remain fair and not label people based on their stance or opinions without fulling hearing their points.
As for the federal law being harsher than the AZ law, that is true. It’s something I knew when drafting up this post, but didn’t include because the post with all of my notes and talking points was getting too labored. I think AZ taking this into their own hands was 100% out of pure frustration. When I get frustrated and I’m trying to take care of something in my own life, I find that my thinking is not as clear as it should be and I end up making decisions that I later regret. This is my opinion on this law. Instead of trying to come up with rational resolutions, AZ wanted to stop the crimes, murders and money bleeding. On one hand, I don’t blame them. But on the other hand, I think they could have used less racial focus with this law.
Your view of how officers of the law should act is dramatically different than the public statements many elected officials have made. Maybe the elected officials should tone down their rhetoric and practice restraint. I think that’s where most of this new law has been given fuel to those of us that have raised concerns about it.
On your fourth point, reasonable suspicion is a broad area. As you said, it’s nothing new and it’s a part of just about any law in most states. The latitude that is given with this can trickle down to everyone and in every area. For example, DUI check points. While there are some that do a good job of trying to keep drunk drivers off the road, staking across the street from a bar or club and stopping 70% of everyone that leaves is lazy policing. It’s stereotyping and not effective in preventing drunk driving. Not everyone that leaves a bar is drunk. Some are designated drivers that still get pulled over, with the officer using reasonable suspicion to accuse until they find something wrong. This happened to someone I know a couple of times, leaving the same bar. Being asked to show one’s arms for drug use and pushing them to the point trying to incite a negative reaction when every test is performed flawless – including blowing a 0.0 – is where abuse of the reasonable suspicion takes center stage. Add to this the ethnicity of the person in a state with an emphasis on a newly passed law and you start to understand why some of us raise concern.
As to your last point, I have never thought or labeled you as anything other than an ultra conservative that is interested in others playing by the same laws and rules you do, with an emphasis on taxes and paying their fair share.
And while we can agree on the principal of the issue, and even taking into your point that the federal law is just as or more harsh, I still would like to see other solutions – at both the state and federal level – that don’t pinpoint a single race of people. It doesn’t help in trying to erase the decades and centuries of race relations.
nilsa – Agreed. As I’ve stated above in the post and in my comments to the others, I want to see better ways of dealing with this issue.
Yep. What you said.
I think the big question boils down to how law enforcement are going to determine “reasonable suspicion” of someone being in the country illegally. It’s a very open ended question and not one that elected officials have been able to satisfactorily answer thus far. When the Governor was asked at the SB1070 press conference if she could describe what an illegal immigrant looked like she said she had no idea.
Now, using @whall’s example of not having a license after being pulled over for a traffic violation could certainly raise suspicion. But that suspicion must be applied across the board for *anyone* without a license – white, brown, black. And that’s where the racial profiling question comes into play. Is a white person with a Texas accent going to be asked to provide papers or is a brown person with a Spanish accent going to be asked? Officially the line is “we don’t racially profile”. In reality though, who knows? And that’s the point. The potential for racial profiling is enormous.
As I mentioned in my own blog post, this issue hits close to home for me because my girlfriend is Hispanic. I’d love to be able to say with 100% certainty that if she and I were pulled over in separate driving incidents and we’d left our driver’s license at home, we’d both get asked for papers. But I can’t say that. And at the moment I don’t think anyone can.
Then of course there are the non-traffic violations. I don’t have to have a drivers license if I’m not driving. So how is “reasonable suspicion” determined then? What does an illegal immigrant look like then?
If and only if, papers are going to be demanded for *everyone* in Arizona when they’re involved in some kind of criminal activity, then and only then, the racial profiling worries of SB1070 can be nothing more than a moot point.
What about the illegal immigrants who don’t break the law (aside from being here illegally). I’m sure lots of them fly under the radar if for no other reason that to avoid being deported.
I can tell you for a fact that words like “probable cause” and “reasonable suspicion” are very broad and basically leave a lot to an individual officer’s discretion. My husband (a detective) frequently has disagreements with his boss because he won’t make an arrest even though he has enough PC because he knows he doesn’t have enough evidence to prosecute.
Profiling happens. You have a neighborhood that is exclusively black. Drugs are sold on the corner. A white person in the neighborhood in the vicinity of that corner is going to be assumed to be buying drugs. Plain and simple. Cops are trained to look for things that are out of the ordinary. And their experience will also come into play.
The illegal immigrants being targeted by this law are most certainly Hispanic and not French or Canadian or English. Rest assured that there are people in those other groups who are here illegally, but they are not “the problem.”
What I find interesting is that Arizona’s law targets the immigrants only, not the employers who make it possible for them to stay here illegally.
Regarding targeting immigrants only and not the employers —
http://www.numbersusa.com/content/node/5823 might help clear this up, as well as any other assumptions about the bill.
One of the three stated “purposes” for the law is to “discourage and deter the unlawful entry and presence of aliens and economic activity by persons unlawfully present in the United States.”
Section 7 prohibits employers from knowingly employing illegal aliens. Penalties include losing business licenses temporarily for 1st violation and permanent loss of license on 2nd violation.
There are also provisions that require use of E-Verify such that you cannot employ someone without checking citizenship. Being registered with e-verify is a requirement, and the AG publishes the list of all businesses registered with E-Verify. However I didn’t see any penalties assessed if a biz doesn’t comply… so I don’t know how suitable it is.
Hope this helps!
I really feel like I haven’t researched this topic as much as I should have, but I do like the points you make and agree. And I especially like (and can relate to) your RIAA comparison.
Maybe I should check into the finer details of this.
sybil law – Thank you.
kevin – I agree with your point to a T. Who gets asked to provide papers is the biggest concern. I think once the law goes into effect here soon (pending court intervention), it’s going to be quite telling, for both real illegals and those that may look illegal, not to mention how anyone else that doesn’t look illegal will be treated outside of a valid stop by authorities (speeding, drunken brawls, etc.)
finn – I think your last point about the workplace is spot on. As I stated in my post, I’m not against enforcement, I simply want a smarter and better option than “reasonable suspicion”
whall – The E-Verify is something I wish this new law would have focused on enforcing. It would have avoided a lot of controversy.
kapgar – When I was writing up this post, the RIAA situation the last few years instantly came to mind.